House Speaker Philip Gunn in his committee appointments may have exacted sweet revenge against the Billy McCoy Democratic reign. But at what cost in loss of institutional knowledge of how state services function?
It’s quite obvious the Gunn appointments were calculated to wipe out all the key McCoy committee chairs, chief among them such veterans as Cecil Brown, Steve Holland, Johnny Stringer and Percy Watson. In one fell swoop some 90 years of expertise in particular legislative fields was wiped out.
Although the GOP now holds only a slight majority of House seats, Gunn is enforcing a fruit basket turnover in legislative leadership. The impact has much greater consequences than a Mississippi version of the adage that “to the victor goes the spoils.”
What’s happening in the state legislative chambers in terms of partisanship divide is something totally unseen before in Mississippi. Never before has the partisan structure of the U.S. Congress — with emphasis on the House — been imposed as a model down in this Deep South state. Our legislative chambers, though tacitly regarded as one-party Democratic, have traditionally operated under a laissez faire system regarding party identity.